The legend of the knucker dragon lives on in sculpture

A village near Arundel inaugurated a 6ft carved oak waymarker on the boundary of the National Park at the weekend.
Sculptor Janine Creaye with the Binstead waymarker.Sculptor Janine Creaye with the Binstead waymarker.
Sculptor Janine Creaye with the Binstead waymarker.

Dozens of villagers from Binstead took part in the ceremony on Sunday, which was steeped in traditional Sussex music and folklore.

The celebrations, which began in Binsted churchyard, included a colourful procession to a crossroads of footpaths on the boundary of the National Park, where the waymarker was showered with handfuls of dried rose petals.

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Schoolchildren joined the party, carrying soft toy badgers and green dragons to represent the Binsted Knucker – a creature of Saxon folklore said to live in bottomless ponds.

Sculptor Janine Creaye, from Cowfold, carved the landmark from an enormous piece of green oak, to represent the ‘spirit of Binsted’.

She said: “At the top there is a green man guardian figure, found in old churches with foliage growing from his face. Ours has hops, oak leaves and bryony.

“Beneath him are two knucker dragons, and between them carved bubbles.

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“The bubbles could be coming up from the adjacent winterbourne stream – or the knucker hole pond.

“In the bubbles are carved animals, with a sleeping dormouse in pride of place. On the back the knuckers are protecting local wild flowers, bees and crops.”

The event’s traditional theme continued with a poetry reading by the chairman of Binsted Arts Festival Camilla Lambert, a folksong from trustees of the charity Sussex Traditions Mike Tristram and Tony Elphick who both live in Binsted, and a ‘wassail’ toast to the waymarker.

After the ceremony, the villagers inspected the year’s hedge-laying which had been carried out by rangers and volunteers from the National Park and from local community environmental group, MAVES.

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